Last week I attended training on Mentoring for CILIP Professional Registration, run by CILIP Scotland at their Glasgow office. A colleague and I had briefly chatted about becoming a CILIP mentor, and while I was initially hesitant it is something that I have been pondering. Friends have said they find mentoring rewarding and enjoyable. I knew the day-long training would be useful, not least to learn some soft management skills, and I would perhaps later become a mentor with CILIP. I haven’t yet, but that’s because I’m going to be very busy in 2018, and it doesn’t seem fair to take on a mentee knowing that, but I think 2019 might be the one!
I was surprised how varied the room was in levels of experience. There were a couple of people retired or nearing retirement, who felt mentoring was a valuable way they could give back to the profession, some mid-career folks considering Fellowship as well as mentoring, and some who had recently completed their Chartership and wanted to become mentors based on their own good experiences.
The day was divided into two parts; an introduction to mentoring skills, and mentoring for CILIP professional registration, both delivered jointly by two Mentor Support Officers (MSOs).
After discussing definitions of mentoring, we explored the developmental model of mentoring, including the importance of rapport, active listening, powerful questioning and constructive feedback.
We spent some time role-playing active listening and powerful questioning; practicing them to overcome initial awkwardness and hesitancy. Although I was at first reluctant about role-play, I found the trainers’ honesty about it being awkward reassuring – the idea was to get over the awkwardness in the session, so that in a real mentor-mentee meeting it would feel more natural.
Powerful questioning is founded on using ‘Who, what, when, where, why and how’ to start questions, using open questions and avoiding leading questions. I found it difficult to hold a naturalistic conversation while also sticking to the above. The combination of active listening and the wording of powerful questions was difficult for me to hold in my mind together. All the groups agreed the hardest part was avoiding giving advice to the ‘mentee’ in the activity, trying to step back and use powerful questioning to help them find solutions. Being in the profession we are, we spend all day trying to solve problems and give advice!
The afternoon session put these mentoring skills into context for the CILIP Professional Registration scheme: Certification (ACLIP), Chartership (MCLIP) and Fellowship (FCLIP). All those undertaking a professional registration award must have a mentor as part of the process, and with the exception of Fellowship this mentor must be a CILIP registered mentor.
The presentation outlined the role of the mentor in the process. For example, the mentor confirms the mentee’s self-assessment against the PKSB (Professional Knowledge and Skills Base), encourages their self-management of learning, provides support during the process, and assists the mentee in evaluation of success.
I enjoyed the course and it answered my initial reservations about whether good mentoring skills can actually be learnt. I now think they can; they involve a lot of things you would instinctively do (body language, etc) but the course really pinned them down and got you actively thinking about them.